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Archive for January, 2011

US Media On Terrorism: It’s OK, So Long As White People Do It

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 31, 2011

Roger Stockham (booking photo, Wayne County, MI Sheriff's office)

Even as seemingly the whole of the conservative media and punditry has spent the last week trying to get Americans to hate and fear Muslims in Egypt as potential evil terrorists, yet another attempted right-wing terror attack in the US get comparatively ignored; it wasn’t until yesterday that the media deigned to notice the attempted bombing of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan a week ago today (hat tip to MEC):

Roger Stockham, 63, was arraigned Wednesday on one count on a threat of terrorism or false report and one count of explosive-possession of bombs with unlawful intent for possession of Class C fireworks, Dearborn Police said.

“He’s very dangerous,” Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad told the Free Press. “We took his threat to be very serious.”

Haddad said the man was previously known to law enforcement officials in other parts of the country.

“He’s had a long history of being angry with the United States government,” Haddad said.

But hey, he’s a white guy, so it’s OK with the conservatives, I guess.

Posted in anti-Muslim, conservativism, terrorism | Tagged: , | Comments Off

Honduran dictatorship, day 389 #cablegate /Update 2

Posted by Charles II on January 30, 2011

Adrienne, RAJ/RNS, and Brother John have been doing the heavy lifting on reporting what goes on in Honduras. Today, RNS tipped me to the fact that a whole bunch of Honduran cables have come out on Wikileaks. There are no stunning revelations, but just a continued filling in of the picture of what was going on before and after the coup.

Added, 1/31: Adrienne links to El Pais on Wikileaks here and here. The former adds a piece of history from earlier cables, namely that the Chamber of Commerce rep. equated membership in ALBA to the whole country being communist. The latter mentions that, contrary to Llorens’ advice, the leadership of the military has continued in the hands of coup participants. I read that as a suggestion that the US military may be sidestepping the State Department in running foreign policy. A dangerous sign, indeed.

Added 2/1: As one might predict, Zelaya has been forced to respond the the implication that he served as a “double agent” (as El Pais put it) in transmitting the US draft on Cuba without mentioning where it came from, not to mention the Honduran response on the US demand that the FARC be labeled terrorists (Basically, they aren’t here, so who cares? But if you say they’re terrorists, well, by golly, yes sir!). Rather than simply say that this is the kind of crap that a small country has to do to survive, Zelaya dances around it, and says, basically, well, look, we got the US to rescind a 40-year old unjust policy arbitrarily excluding Cuba from the OAS. And, yes, now Cuba is excluded because it quite reasonably refuses to subscribe to the OAS charter, given that the OAS has, contrary to its own charter, gone along with the ridiculous US policy toward Cuba (see this article to see that I am not the only cynic in this regard). Such is what we call progress.

06TEGUCIGALPA526, 3/16/2006 is by Ambassador Ford who, two years later, would call Zelaya “not a friend” of the US, and deride him as a mendacious juvenile. Here, the tone is different, but clearly dismissive. Zelaya is “clearly a friend of the USG” and had helped with CAFTA and counter-narcotics, as well as working with the Pentagon. But, Ford complains that crime has apparently risen, immigration reform was going slow, and economic policy–especially regarding nationalization of fuel– is not to Ford’s liking. It contains this amazing line: “[Former president, owner of La Tribuna, and oligarch Carlos Roberto] Flores [Facusse] emphasized to Zelaya that aside from political considerations in his party, the only people a Honduran President needed to consult with were Roman Catholic Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez and the American Ambassador.” This puts in context the Ford’s negative comment that, “at public events with key officials present, Zelaya will make clear that anyone interested in becoming President of the country needs first to get the blessing of the American Ambassador.”

08TEGUCIGALPA86, 1/28/08 is by Ford. It calls the purchase of oil for electrical generation from Venezuela “political theater,” and mentions Micheletti’s opposition. Absent any evidence whatsoever, Ford says he suspects that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has demanded as a political price that Honduras not label the FARC a terrorist organization. In 08TEGUCIGALPA89, 1/28 Ford explains that sources inside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told him that Chavez asked Zelaya “to either remove the FARC from any terrorist lists or publicly acknowledge it as not being a terrorist organization”

09TEGUCIGALPA431, 6/8/09 is from the period just before the coup and reinforces the sense that Ambassador Hugo Llorens is oblivious of the impending coup. He says that Zelaya “shared details…on his negotiations with ALBA [the Bolivaran Alternative organization, whose mainstay is Venezuela] members and Cuba over the negotiations on Cuba at the Organization of American States General Assembly in San Pedro Sula June 2 and 3,” praised Hillary Clinton for making a proposal to bring Cuba into the OAS if it would abide by OAS principles. It makes clear that Zelaya is supporting the US against the more radical ALBA. “Zelaya successfully pressured ALBA to accept our text. … Zelaya wants good relations with the new administration and wanted her [Hillary's] visit to be successful. Zelaya kept his word to us on not allowing any of the ALBA presidents to speak.”

10TEGUCIGALPA2, 1/5/10 describes Llorens’ meeting with Pretendisent-select Porfirio Lobo. It’s notable for the lack of affect, given that there has been a coup, dozens of deaths, an international uproar, an embassy held hostage, and Micheletti is continuing to thumb his nose at the US. There are phrases like, “the USG appreciated Lobo’s parallel interest in resolving the political crisis,” “Washington was not inclined to look favorably on Micheletti waiting until the last days before the inauguration to step aside,” and “[Llorens and Lobo] agreed that what had taken place was a failure of political leadership by President Jose Manuel “Mel” Zelaya in the months leading up to the June coup, as well as Micheletti and other institutions in supporting the coup.” See? No violations of international law or human rights, just a regrettable incident in an otherwise pleasant relationship.

10TEGUCIGALPA16, 1/8/10 reports that the Public Ministry has filed charges against high military officials for kidnapping Zelaya. This, of course, went nowhere, as all involved surely knew.

10TEGUCIGALPA65, 1/26/10 is a perfect example of how the Secret classification is used to protect the US (and foreign governments) from embarrassment. It quotes Lobo as saying that Dominican Republic President Lionel Fernandez is a “real operator,” says that the US got Cesar Ham to join the Lobo government as a representative of the opposition so that Lobo’s government could be called a unity government as required by the nations of the world to readmit Honduras to their membership. Surprisingly, Zelaya says he also urged Ham to join the government–this will probably not win him friends in the Resistance, which needed to maintain unity to underline just how unrepresentative Lobo’s government was.

10TEGUCIGALPA143, 2/17/10 Lllorens tells Lobo that he needs to get the military who were coup participants [Generals Vasquez Velasquez and Garcia Padgett] to step down “to make clear strong civilian control of the military.” Of course, the cable makes it clear that the US embassy exerts complete control over the Honduran government which has this strong control over the military.

10TEGUCIGALPA160, 2/20/10 has to do with a corrupt deal by the Micheletti administration with regard to “Jose Cecilio del Valle dam and hydroelectric plant near Nacaome.” This involved falsification of the official publication La Gazeta by printing one set of copies with the announcement of the concession to “Italian Industrial Agency S.R.L. and B&P Altolumie SNS, and the Honduran firms Hidrocontrol S.A ” and a second set, made public, in which the announcement didn’t appear.

In other news, Adrienne reports that a web page reporting on human rights is up at: http://hondurashumanrights.wordpress.com/. Also see the Honduras Accompaniment Project: http://friendshipamericas.org/honduras

(Via Adrienne)

  • * Bill Quigley (with Pam Spees) of the CCR has published a piece at HuffPo. Short on specifics, alas, but Spees has moved to Honduras, so perhaps CCR will start building the case files for eventual prosecutions.

    *Jeremy Kryt has a piece in In These Times, analyzing the Wikileaks cables.

    * Also, violent evictions in Tocoa. Members of the Buenos Amigos community are being held and perhaps tortured.

  • As usual, there’s far more, which I don’t have time for.

    Posted in Honduras, Latin America | 1 Comment »

    A Message For Obama From Cairo

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 30, 2011

    From the Arabist: http://twitpic.com/3uxmbp

    This Egyptian asks America to support the Egyptian people, not the tyrant Hosni Mubarak.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Terrorism, Fortunately Averted

    Posted by MEC on January 30, 2011

    A man was arrested on a terrorism charge for planning to blow up the largest mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, the largest Arab community in the United States.

    He had driven to Dearborn from California, and his car was filled with explosives when he was arrested. An employee at a bar where the suspect was uttering “violent threats” called the policeman. Kudos to that man for taking the threats seriously: the suspect was arrested in the parking lot of the mosque, at a time when hundreds of people were in the mosque. And kudos to law-enforcement officials for acting promptly.

    Posted in anti-Americanism, anti-Muslim, terrorism | 5 Comments »

    Know your opposition

    Posted by Charles II on January 30, 2011

    Via Moonbotica at Eschaton, this piece by Mark Frauenfelder at BoingBoing on Ayn Rand’s hypocrisy in taking Social Security and Medicare, and the much more interesting interview of Ayn Rand on the Phil Donahue show.

    I just watched the first few minutes, but immediately the contradictions that she generates within the right struck me. She calls “altruists” (which she defines as people who sacrifice their own values for others) as “evil.” This essentially means she views Jesus as evil, because he sacrificed his life, which valued so strongly that he sweated blood over it, at the command of God. Rand could argue that He was sacrificing one value (life) for a value held more strongly (obedience to God) but, of course, that’s exactly what altruists do. They say, “I will surrender this because I believe it will lead to a better world, which I value even more than what I am surrendering.”

    She is in many ways the grandmother of the modern Republican Party, which believes deeply that helping people is fundamentally harmful both to the helper and the helped. So, to be half-facetious, maybe they really are all antiChrists. There’s certainly a lot in the behavior of the Party that is deeply un-Jesuslike. And, as has been claimed here, Rand’s vision of the ideal man was based on a “a forger, an armed robber, a child kidnapper, and a multiple murderer.”

    Posted in history, libertoonians, wrong way to go about it | 2 Comments »

    Important words from Juan Cole

    Posted by Charles II on January 30, 2011

    [Added: Sharif Abdel Kouddous is blogging Egypt]

    In analyzing the situation in Egypt, Juan Cole says something very important that US policymakers and politicians seem to have forgotten. It’s at the core of why I have stood so strongly against US interventions in Latin America. Although Juan Cole credits Max Weber for the insight (see here or here for a more precise expression of Weber), it’s really just common sense:

    Why has the Egyptian state lost its legitimacy? Max Weber distinguished between power and authority. Power flows from the barrel of a gun, and the Egyptian state still has plenty of those. But Weber defines authority as the likelihood that a command will be obeyed. Leaders who have authority do not have to shoot people. …

    Authority is rooted in legitimacy. Leaders are acknowledged because the people agree that there is some legitimate basis for their authority and power. In democratic countries, that legitimacy comes from the ballot box.

    The urban sector has thrown up a few multi-millionaires, but many laborers fell left behind. The enormous number of high school and college graduates produced by the system can seldom find employment suited to their skills, and many cannot get jobs at all. Urban Egypt has rich and poor but only a small “middle class.” The state carefully tries to control labor unions, who could seldom act independently.

    The state was thus increasingly seen to be a state for the few.

    The Nasserist state, for all its flaws, gained legitimacy because it was seen as a state for the mass of Egyptians, whether abroad or domestically. The present regime is widely seen in Egypt as a state for the others– for the US, Israel, France and the UK– and as a state for the few– the Neoliberal nouveau riche. Islam plays no role in this analysis because it is not an independent variable. Muslim movements have served to protest the withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities, and to provide services. But they are a symptom, not the cause.

    In modern parlance, the words for “power” and “authority” as Cole is using them might be “hard power” and “soft power” (in Weber’s theory, “authority” is actually defined as the basis on which a command is viewed as legitimate or illegitimate, rather than the actual likelihood that it will be obeyed, which he calls “imperative control.” “Power” is the likelihood that the will of the commander will prevail, with or without resistance.)

    Let us compare this to what is going on in the United States.
    continues below the fold
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, history, Media machine, peace, Pentagon | Comments Off

    Aluf Benn Spews Neocon Trash About Egypt

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 30, 2011

    Sigh. Aluf Benn’s doing the bidding of hardcore righties in Israel and neocons in the US.

    He’s spewing “Obama Lost Egypt” crapola for Ha’aretz, who should know better. And of course the right-wing jerks in the US are eating it up.

    For those who want a little reality with their neocon propaganda, watch Al Jazeera’s live feed of the Egyptian protests, and check this out:

    The ‘Islamist Menace’ is overblown. Some American commentators have argued that Al Jazeera is somehow fanning Islamism and anti-Americanism with its coverage. But as Marc Lynch has pointed out, Egyptian citizens, like Tunisians before them, are so—justifiably—angry at their governments that it’s hard to imagine what new provocations the station could come up with. Similarly, concern about the relative strength of the Muslim Brotherhood, which espouses a fundamentalist strain of Islam and has championed and employed violence in the past, should be balanced against three other facts: (1) The Brotherhood has renounced violence and it has been active in Egyptian politics, transformed by an internal debate about whether and how to participate, for some time now; (2) Thus far, observers on the ground report that it is young, secular Egyptians who are leading this revolt; (3) The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition organization in Egypt, is a first-rank enemy of Al Qaeda, and has been for decades. (A chapter in the recent “Self-Inflicted Wounds” from West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center lays out the feud, and how it has played out in Egypt, South Asia and elsewhere, in detail. Briefly, the Brotherhood’s goals have been more political and focused on individual governments—and thus less focused on what Bin Laden refers to as the “far enemy”—the United States homeland.) Meanwhile, it is reasonable to be concerned about the future role of radical extremists where other forces are weak, but this kind of scaremongering is actually quite ignorant; it’s also disheartening and potentially damaging to the true democrats—some of whom organize around Islam, and some of whom don’t—that are doing the struggling and dying right now. Americans, like others around the world, are instinctively cheering for them. They are right to do so.

    Exactly.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

    A novel (and somewhat bizarre) view of Brazilian politics #Cablegate 06SAOPAULO360

    Posted by Charles II on January 29, 2011

    This is an except from a Wikileaked cable. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, particularly because we find our (in Washington parlance) good friend Darrell Issa in Brazil in April 2004, engaged in making foreign policy. Go figure. Anyway, there’s this, which I find particularly interesting:

    . ¶5. (SBU) [Lebanese Consul General in Sao Paulo Joseph] Sayah and [long-time investment and government relations advisor to the Hariri Family Group Souheil] Yarmout gave a somewhat surprising account of the current influence on the GoB of various elements of the Arab community in Brazil. When asked why the GoB had taken some confusing stands counter to the United States regarding Middle East policy, both men described the MFA (Itamaraty) as being greatly influenced by Syrians in Brazil. They said that for generations, Syrian-Brazilians have become diplomats, while Lebanese immigrants have focused on business. In the past these trends were not noticed because there was no divergence in opinion or interests among the various elements of the greater Arab community in Brazil.

    ¶6. (SBU) However, with the Syrian pullout from Lebanon and a growing hostility between the two countries fueled by the assassination of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the GoB finds itself behaving almost schizophrenically, both Sayah and Yarmout asserted. The descendents [sic] of Syrians purportedly entrenched in the Brazilian Foreign Ministry have taken public stands in support of Syria, allegedly at times even without the knowledge or authorization of others in the Lula administration. Further, the Arab-Brazil Chamber of Commerce has become extremely influential, and the organization tends to oppose U.S.-led initiatives in the Middle East.

    ¶3. (U) Brazil’s Lebanese community is the largest expatriate group of Lebanese worldwide. CG Sayah confirmed for Representative Issa that after four generations since large-scale immigration began, Sao Paulo alone is home to some eight million persons of Lebanese descent.

    If any of this is true, it’s interesting that the US embassy is discovering it for the first time. My guess is that Sayah and Yarmout are manipulating Issa, who is of Lebanese descent, to get US government support against Hezbollah in favor of Hariri-family interests. But that’s quite a statistic: eight million ethnic Lebanese in Sao Paolo alone?

    Posted in Brazil, Conflict in the Middle East, Latin America | Comments Off

    What Happens When a Billionaire Right-Winger Who Hates Social Security Spends Million$ to Undermine It?

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 29, 2011

    What happens when you have a billionaire right-winger (Pete Peterson) who along with other rich right-wingers has had a hate-on for Social Security for several decades and has spent tens of millions on various enterprises (his “Concord Coalition” and “Fiscal Times” come most quickly to mind) in order to destroy it by embedding lies about it into our mainstream media?

    You get garbage like this from the AP’s Stephen Ohlemacher: “Sick and getting sicker, Social Security will run at a deficit this year and keep on running in the red until its trust funds are drained by about 2037, congressional budget experts said Wednesday in bleaker-than-previous estimates.”

    As economic reporter Joshua Holland says, this is just flat-out wrong:

    Is it “sick”? Social Security has $2.5 trillion in T-Bills sitting in a trust fund, is financed through 2037 and if nothing were to change it would still be able to pay out higher benefits than it does today, indefinitely.

    Is it getting sicker? Well, the 2000 Social Security Trustees’s report (PDF) projected that the trust fund would run out in … 2037. But the 1997 report (PDF) expected the trust fund to be depleted by 2029 — 8 years earlier than currently projected. So in that sense, it’s “healthier” today than it was 13 years ago.

    That’s not the end of the lies being spewed by Ohlemacher. Holland notes the following:

    When he says the program is “in the red” what he’s talking about is that current tax revenues being paid into the system have fallen below current benefit payments. Which should be unsurprising with wages stagnating and an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent.

    But what’s unsaid is that the Social Security’s revenues aren’t limited to current tax receipts, thanks to the interest earned on those T-Bills in the trust fund. They earned 5.1 percent in 2008, and 4.8 percent in 2009.

    When you include that earned interest, as any honest reporter must do, the program has not “gone into the red,” and — if we define “going into the red” as total annual outlays exceeding total income, including interest income — it won’t until at least 2018, according to the Trustees’ latest report (PDF).

    Yes, the Trust Fund grew last year, is growing this year, and will continue to grow for several more years, until it reaches a projected $4.2 trillion dollars.

    Go read Holland’s entire piece — it’s worth it. And while you’re at it, check out my earlier debunking of the “Social Security must be destroyed in order to save it” myth pushed by the privatizers back when Bush was in office.

    (Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

    Posted in Social Security | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

    Yet Another Climate-Change Denier Myth Shot Down

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 29, 2011

    A new myth making the rounds of the coal-and-oil-industry-bought-and-paid-for climate skeptics, the “volcanoes kick out more carbon than humans ever have” myth, is summarily executed:

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey
    (USGS), the world’s volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, while our automotive and industrial activities cause some 24 billion tons of CO2 emissions every year worldwide. Despite the arguments to the contrary, the facts speak for themselves: Greenhouse gas emissions from volcanoes comprise less than one percent of those generated by today’s human endeavors.

    Human Emissions Also Dwarf Volcanoes in Carbon Dioxide Production
    Another indication that human emissions dwarf those of volcanoes is the fact that atmospheric CO2 levels, as measured by sampling stations around the world set up by the federally funded Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, have gone up consistently year after year regardless of whether or not there have been major volcanic eruptions in specific years. “If it were true that individual volcanic eruptions dominated human emissions and were causing the rise in carbon dioxide concentrations, then these carbon dioxide records would be full of spikes—one for each eruption,” says Coby Beck, a journalist writing for online environmental news portal Grist.org. “Instead, such records show a smooth and regular trend.”

    In fact, the type of sunlight-blocking ash and soot volcanoes kick out is much more likely to cause global cooling, as shown by the dramatic cooling in the aftermath of the Tambora explosion two centuries ago that turned 1816 into “the year without a summer” in the northern hemisphere, where snow fell in June and crop failures were widespread. A more recent, albeit less extreme, example, the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991, cooled the earth by half a degree Centigrade for a full year.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

     
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